The top Democrat in the Iowa House says legislators have reservations about a big chunk of Governor Culver’s proposed $750 million borrowing plan.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, is not completely ruling out the idea of borrowing $250 million to finance transportation-related projects. "It’s an uphill climb, but we might be able to do something in that area," Murphy says, "We may look at things that deal with roads and bridges for disaster-affected communities, so there (are) a number of things that are on the table. I just don’t know what we will be able to agree to and what we won’t be able to agree to."
Murphy suggests the current system which uses state gas taxes to finance road and bridge maintenance and construction is preferable to borrowing. "Whenever you (borrow) for roads and bridges (and) other states have done this is you start cycles in the construction industry where you have a two or three year surge in construction and then if you don’t have as much in bonds, you have a huge drop off," Murphy says. "Whereas with the gas tax, you have a constant revenue source that’s rolling in there."
Governor Culver has voted to veto a gas tax increase and Murphy says while he was "open" to a gas tax increase, Murphy is also "open" to borrowing money to finance some road and bridge construction. "When (Culver) talked to us about it, I told him that I thought it was a bold initiative. I thought it was a good idea," Murphy says. "The details are the hard part to work out on this."
Click on the audio link below to listen to this afternoon’s statehouse news conference featuring Murphy and House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines.